The Beating Heart


Our heartbeat

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Written by ANDRÉE SEU

August 17, 9:23 AM

Have you ever given much thought to your heartbeat? A man in England recently was the first to walk out of a hospital with a plastic artificial heart, one that will buy him time until he can get a permanent one of the flesh variety. The portable console ticks very loudly, so Matthew Green can hear, at all times, the apparatus that is keeping him alive. If at any moment he hears it stop, he is toast.

It’s the same with you and me, but we don’t think about it much. For one thing our ticker is discretely soft-spoken. You might detect the thumping after a good run, and your friend can put her ear to your chest and hear the reassuring muffled throb, but otherwise we go about quite content to ignore it.

But think about it: You never started your heart pumping and you have no say in how many times it will pump and when will be its last beat. I was at my husband’s bedside when he was dying, and I had my hand on his chest feeling his heart beat. Suddenly it just stopped. In my daze, I thought, “Isn’t somebody going to do something about this? His heart just stopped? We need to get it started again.” But nobody made a move. They knew it was death. I had momentarily forgotten that God has the last say and knew exactly how many beats he had given my husband.

I once asked a cardiologist what causes the heart to beat, and she gave me some answer about nodes and Purkinje fibers and a cardiac conduction system. But even as she was telling me, I knew her explanation was just pushing the question back one step. For then I could ask, well, what causes the cardiac conduction system?

You and I are so ingrained in the idea of cause and effect and that nothing comes from nothing that it is very strange when I feel my own heart and know that there is nothing behind it but God.